Finding: A team of researchers has determined through analysis of the earliest known hominid fossils outside of Africa, recently discovered in Dmanisi, Georgia, that the first human ancestors to inhabit Eurasia were more primitive than previously thought.
The fossils, dated to 1.8 million years old, show some modern aspects of lower limb morphology, such as long legs and an arched foot, but retain some primitive aspects of morphology in the shoulder and foot. The species had a small stature and brain size more similar to earlier species found in Africa.
The earliest known hominins to have lived outside Africa in temperate zones of Eurasia did not yet display the full set of derived skeletal features the researchers conclude.
What this means
The new evidence shows how this species had the anatomical and behavioral capacity to be successful across a range of environments and expand out of Africa.
This research shows that the limb proportions and behavioral flexibility which allowed this species to expand out of Africa were there at least 1.8 million years ago.
Dmanisi is the site of a medieval village located about 53 miles southwest of Tbilisi, Georgia on a promontory at the confluence of the Mashavera and Phinezauri rivers.